A controversial Arizona attorney who’s filed more than 2,000 disability lawsuits has been suspended by the state’s presiding disciplinary judge.
Judge William J. O’Neil issued an interim suspension that bars Peter Strojnik from practicing law until the State Bar finishes an ongoing investigation into his conduct involving disability-access lawsuits.
The Bar’s investigation could remain open for months, or longer.
It’s not clear if the State Bar’s investigation seeks to disbar Strojnik. However, interim suspensions are considered one of the most extreme measures taken by the State Bar and are rarely used, legal experts said.
“The evidence and testimony shows that Mr. Strojnik is partaking in a scheme that will cause imminent and substantial harm to the public and administration of justice,” Judge O’Neil wrote in his decision.
The State Bar has been investigating Strojnik for more than a year, and asked the court to file an interim suspension in March.
The judge’s decision comes after the Bar and Strojnik had an all-day hearing several weeks ago.
In the last few years, Strojnik has become one of the most prolific serial-suers in America by filing more than 2,000 lawsuits under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
ABC15 has reported extensively on Strojnik’s cases, specifically his lawsuits filed on behalf of a controversial group called Advocates for Individuals with Disabilities (AID).
AID’s lawsuits were copy-and-paste cases that alleged violations with parking lots signs. They were in the most literal sense drive-by lawsuits and most demanded between $5,000 and $7,500.
ABC15’s reports prompted the Attorney General to take previous action against AID and Strojnik last year, which resulted in mass dismissal of those cases in state court.
As part of the AG’s previous actions, AID and Strojnik settled with the state agreeing to never file another ADA lawsuit in state courts again.
But Strojnik filed more than 100 new cases in federal court with a new plaintiff named Fernando Gastelum, who he pays $350 per case, records show.
In ADA lawsuits, attorneys are only allowed to sue to fix disability-access violations and recoup legal fees. So, claim a higher hourly-rate and fees, get a bigger settlement.
In his new federal cases, Strojnik has collected more than $600,000, records show.
Strojnik claims he’s spent dozens of hours on cases, charging $650 an hour, even though the court officials said those lawsuits contain boilerplate and copy-and-paste complaints.
The Attorney General’s Office is now attempting to intervene in those federal cases, and also filed a motion that would label Strojnik a “vexatious litigant,” which would limit his ability to file new lawsuits.
The moves by the Attorney General are still pending.
Peter Strojnik has previously declined repeated requests for comment. He has blocked ABC15 journalists from contacting him.
Contact ABC15 Investigator Dave Biscobing at firstname.lastname@example.org.